a seeker in search of Easter Eggs

Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018

Peoplescape of Rishikesh

Location: Rishikesh (city), Uttarakhand (state), India

Baba JayBaba Jay
To begin with, what's an American baba (spiritual guru) doing in Rishikesh during pilgrim season when the whole city is awash by Indian Babas? If you can discern his Caucasian features, he would stand out amidst a sea of babas here in Rishikesh. Even before I was introduced to him, I was already curious after hearing Greg talk about this American Baba with 'good vibes'. I was finally introduced to him. He looked the look - beard, bunned-up hair, saffron clothing, lean saddu-built (religious ascetic), religious face-painting, beads, etc. He also talked the talk - loving kindness, compassion, etc. I expected all those things but I wanted to find out what makes him unique or different from the rest.

TheLoneRider Let me come clean first. At the risk of sounding irreverent, I'm not a big fan of Babas - specially the ones who do not curb their devotees' deitification of them. I could just imagine how intoxicating it is for the ego to be at the center of god-like worship. Babas with rock-star status who talk about love sling mud at each other - ego? diminishing share of the devotee pie? money? control? I wouldn't be surprised if they have sex videos hidden somewhere for private viewing when hormones kick-in. I remember a story from a Russian friend about getting drunk with a Baba. The Baba showed him a wooden staff with notches in them. "Number of white women I banged!", he bragged.

But still, I am fascinated by them, always curious if I actually come across a real one (Goenka and Krishnamacharya come to mind). Thus, I have that openness in meeting them and getting a sense of how they do and see things. I digress, back to Baba Jay.

Baba Jay
mini satsang with Baba Jay at Cafe Shambala

I messaged Baba Jay if we could meet for coffee. I'm glad he said yes. It was a conversation that lasted 3.5 hours at Cafe Shambala. We were later joined-in by 2 Indian muslim ladies, Nahida and Anmol, who added layers to the conversation. The conversation spanned many topics - Indian deities, history, geography, chakras, yoga, meditation, Shariat Act, Vipassana, etc. It was engaging as it was fascinating.

Baba Jay is animated as he himself spans a colorful life spectrum - from being down and out, pounding the gritty pavement of Hard Knox, working for an NGO helping kids at risk of gang violence, to being what he is now - a beacon of light to those in need of healing. Yes, it became clear to me he was an energetic healer - unblocking the nadis for a free-flow of prana, restoring the body back to balance. But he is more than that as he is well versed into meditation, yoga and psychic pursuits. Unlike the stereotypical gurus who utter 2 words to explain life (leaving you to fill-in the blanks), Baba Jay doesn't mince his words. He is transparent and extemporaneous about his ideas and life events that shaped him. He exudes transparency and good intentions. I did not sense any kind of spiritual entitlement he gives himself - it's like you're just having a buddy conversation over beer! He cited a few events where he took on the task nobody else wanted to do. Why? Because it had to be done - it wasn't about 'not being his job'. Hmmm....he walks the walk as well. I like that the most! If you can look the look, talk the talk but can't walk the walk, then you're just a poser.

Is he the real deal? Ha-ha, it would take more than 3.5 hours to answer that. But I enjoyed his company, learned from his insight and equally important, the skeptic in me didn't sense any red flag about him. I would welcome more moments with him.

--- TheLoneRider
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

next life:

Reader Comments:

Baba JayBaba Jay USA
(June 15, 2018) A pleasure to meet you Gigit and You definitely know how to keep it real. Keep smiling it heals us. Love always

(June 15, 2018) my friend Greg would say, nothing but love Brother

Greg GoldsteinGreg USA
Peoplescape Of Rishikesh
(June 15, 2018) I love the beautiful, tangled web we weave. More entanglement is my prediction for the future 🙂

(June 15, 2018) entangled karmic paths.... I like it! 🙂

Romeo ManoRomeo Mano
(June 14, 2018) Live and let live, Git

Meena OliverMeena Oliver
(June 11, 2018) ...forgot to say that we bumped into each other 3 times in different places! Awesome and om! Anyway, let's follow our travels and perhaps will coincide somewhere 🙂

Madlén HjelmrothMadlén Hjelmroth
(June 3, 2018) It is a pleasure to have met you Gigit 🙂

Hana VanovaHana Vanova
(June 2, 2018) Revenge is sweet, right? 🙂 My manners really are dreadful. Will try to keep it more on hold... Mission impossible. Have fun in Rishikesh! Love H

(June 2, 2018) Your manners are a refreshing departure from safe answers and political correctness. Love you just the way you are 🙂

Hana VanovaHana Vanova
(June 3, 2018) flatterer 🙂

Greg GoldsteinGreg USA
Peoplescape Of Rishikesh
(June 2, 2018) It is such a pleasure to know you. Nothing but love, my brother 🙏

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Rishikesh (city), India

hotels in Rishikesh hotel
  • RAAHI The Travellers Nest - backpacker-friendly, dorm rooms, central location, tours & rafting, motorbike rental, great place to meet people
    Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula, 249192 Rishikesh

Travel Tips for Rishikesh

  1. climate-wise, best time to visit Rishikesh is from October to February when temperature is cool. This is also the high season for foreign travelers.
  2. May to June (my time of visit, before the monsoon rains) is HOT and DRY. Temperatures can reach beyond 40° and your skin/lips dry up. Great to go rafting or a dip in the Ganga River for respite. There are mostly Indian devotees and Indian tourists flocking to Rishikesh. Westerns tourists are few, but Rishikesh gets crowded specially while crossing the 2 bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. Lodging prices can be negotiated down to INR 300/night for a bunk bed in a dorm room as this is low season.
  3. During the cooler season when any of the hugely popular gurus or babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar!
  4. short power outages frequently happen during the day

How to get to Rishikesh from New Delhi by bus

  1. bus terminal Bus - take the Metro Yellow Line and get off at Kashmiri Gate. Exit the station from Gate 7 and enter the ISBT building - this is the bus terminal. Go down one flight and go to Platform 14. This is where you buy the bus ticket and board the bus. A/C bus, INR 454, 6 hours. You can take the 10:30pm bus and arrive 5am in Rishikesh.

    scam alert! - over the ticket counter, the guy may verbally charge you INR 765 - this is usually the online price of the bus ticket. But I looked closely at the printed ticket, and found the price at INR 454. I demanded more change! The guy knew he's been discovered and gave me back the rest of the change.

    You will arrive in Rishikesh at Adarsh Gram. To get to your hotel, travelers usually share a tuk-tuk (called Vikrams) for INR 10-20/passenger if shared. Since I arrived 5am, there was no one to share so I ended up paying a negotiated INR 150.
Travel Tips for India
  • e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
  • US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
  • nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
  • other travel destinations in India
  • always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes

General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
India Blogs


  1. 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
  2. Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
  3. Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
  4. In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
  5. Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
  6. Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
  7. Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
  8. Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
  9. A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018

  11. 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
  12. Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
  13. A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018

  15. A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  16. Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  17. Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
  18. White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
  19. Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
  20. Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
  21. Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
  22. Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018

  24. India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018

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